Kszyrzacy (Tutonic Nites) by Kamila Cyfra is a translation of Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Krzyżacy (The Teutonic Knights) into a novel language of her making which is based on a phonetic-like spelling. It follows rigorously defined and consistently applied rules.
The translation was made manually, sentence by sentence, by means of a word processor. In this way, I deconstructed Sienkiewicz’s work. It became a book which is intended not for reading, but for conveying an idea. Kszyrzacy emerges thus as a literary-sculptural hybrid. It is sculptural because it becomes a conceptual object; and it is literary because it is underpinned by word manipulations.
The removal of Polish diacritics aims to evacuate the Polish imprint from the visual and conceptual layers of the work’s language. At the same time, the language of the translation is messy, written with deliberate errors, and replete with spelling mistakes. All these devices seek to primitivize the novel’s verbal component.
Words are written only in capitalized Latin characters. The decision to use exclusively uppercase letters was made first of all to homogenize the novel formally and, secondly, to produce an impression of shouting out. It serves both as an emphatic statement conveyed by the very translation of the novel and as a vigorous expression of interfering with the work to highlight that Sienkiewicz’s novel was “trolled” in the spirit of the controversial, provocative, and antisocial behavior of Internet users in order to provoke a heated discussion or an argument.
Kamila Cyfra, she works with installations and performs artistic interventions. Interested in language and primitivism, she disrupts pathos and plays with conventions.